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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

On Being A Casual MMO Player, Part 1 of n

Posted by UnSub Sunday November 4 2007 at 7:49AM
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I'm a casual MMO player. Which is to say that, in a genre where game progression is 99% based on how long you can spend in-game, I'm never going to be able to cut it.

How casual am I? I can probably squeeze in 10 hours of computer recreation time per week at home. For MMOs, where playing them like a second job is seen as an acceptable gaming methodology, this means I'm a long way behind the curve.

I find that interesting, because a lot of verbal attention is given to casual players by MMOs, especially new MMOs. "Come on in casual players - you'll be able to do lots of things and it'll be fun!" they say. What this tends to mean is that casual players can fiddle around the edges and see bits and pieces, but if you really want to play and see the good stuff / get the good loot, you need to spend more resources - in most cases, this means time in-game.

However, the thing is that there are a lot more casual players out there than hardcore. The hardcore are more vocal and churn through the content faster, but they are a small percentage of the market. I don't have any stats for a game-by-game breakdown of casual players vs hardcore players in terms of proportion, but it's pretty straightforward that there are more players who kick around for a few hours a week as an escape in-game than those who dedicate 40+ hours to it.

Yet the MMO market tends to act like the hardcore market is the only one worth going after, that players who can't spend 4 hours a day min/maxing their character into a PvP demi-god aren't worth the time to develop anything meaningful for. Post launch, casual players really tend to get shafted as lots of development goes into an 'end-game' that requires a lot of time to get to and then a lot of time to play through.

It's a stupid model, and one that WoW (err... up until end-game, that is) and CoH/V have shown doesn't have to exist. You can let players play casually, let them advance quickly and still keep them paying up from month to month.

"But surely developing for the hardcore is a sensible idea?", you might ask. "They are the ones who are most loyal to their MMO, the ones who stay around the longest and the ones who know the game best, right?"

Not necessarily. More to come in a later entry...

evilkitty writes:

There's got to be a turning point soon. Most of the kids who started on Everquest are or have grown up now and just don't have the time to spend grinding away endlessly at a second job. There's a heck of a lot who are in the 25 - 35 age bracket and with work, relationships, children, other hobbies all competing for time, MMO's will just have to adapt. Sure there'll always been plenty of the younger crowd playing with their hours of free time, but they're not where the money is.

Mon Nov 05 2007 12:45AM Report
ssnautilus writes:

I also classify myself as a casual player - I detest grinding millions of critters just so I can gain levels/that uber-rare-drop/etc. I just dont have that mindless-blasting mentality - and prefer complexity/ intelligence/ creativity of content anyday.

One MOG that does deliver nicely for casual players is Guild Wars. I wont go into details about each and every positive aspect of the GW model - just that it is suffice to say that ArenaNet does put a lot of love in their code. If you have an overall comparison of all positive elements of all MOGs out there - GW takes the lead anytime IMO.

Hope other games follow GW's example (not "me too" clones - that bad!) but design games that appeal to ANY type of player.


Mon Nov 05 2007 1:46PM Report
Alienovrlord writes:

Agreed with this blog except when they said that CoH was casual friendly.   CoH/V has some good ideas like scalable mission for soloability and missions that don't take 5 hours (most of the time)

But CoH/V falls flat for casuals when it comes to the leveling curve and XP debt mechanic.   Not to mention the tedious, timesink missions requiring boring travel (it's even boring with super travel powers!) 

The only truly casual-friendly games out there are WoW (pre-60) and Guild Wars.  You can tell these are casual friendly because they are far, far more popular and have much larger pieces of MMORPG player market than CoH/V or most other so-called 'casual friendly' games like Vanguard or EVE.  

Mon Nov 05 2007 3:09PM Report
UnSub writes:

If anyone believes that Vangard or EVE are casual friendly, then can you point them in my direction? I've got a bridge I'd like to sell them.

I think that CoH/V is casual friendly - you can log on for a short time and run some missions without any hassles - but I agree that the XP curve is a bit rough in the middle there.

Tue Nov 06 2007 7:52PM Report
acommoncold writes:

Actually I think Eve Online is a casual game. I know plenty of adults who find other means of making isk, not to mention their skills are ALWAYS training and progressing.

A friend of mine plays the market and builds his own materials while getting buy orders from other people. He sets up shop and starts producing various buy orders. Thus he can go out and grind for an hour or so or join in a PVP fleet operation once a week. While he is not as combat savy as others. He is able to still hold his own because he doesn't need to grind levels.


Now being casual friendly I agree, it is a very complicated game because its an MMO unlike any other in they way it does things. So true, but a player with some brains can figure things out or refer to the community simple.

Fri Nov 23 2007 2:39AM Report writes:
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